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October 27, 2017 4:01 pm

Masks May Not Prevent Impacts of Smoke

Monday, August 14, 2017 @ 5:53 AM

Prince George, B.C. – The paper surgical masks available  at any drug store,   won’t do a thing to protect you from the small particles in  wildfire smoke.

Because the wildfire smoke is  impacting  nearly all regions of the Province, the  Ministry of Health and Emergency Management BC are  urging  those who have  evacuated their homes due to smoky conditions to return home, and  offer some advice on how  to  reduce the amount of smoke being inhaled.

Deputy  Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry  says while  there are certain types of respirators  that are recommended for use by those who have to be outdoors,  those same respirators are not recommended in general  for most people and should never be used indoors “Respirators add to the work of breathing and can make  your condition worse.”

As for those paper  or  surgical masks?  “Those ones are not of any use, ” says Dr. Henry “They really will not protect your lungs from wildfire smoke, they may help with some of the larger particles and some of the ash  in areas that are closer to the fires, but they are not going to protect   your lungs  from the health  effects of breathing smoky air.”

She says N-95  respirators will  help block  the small particles “But they also carry with them a risk,  they can make it very difficult to breathe normally and that can be a challenge  for elderly people,  people with existing  breathing or heart conditions.  So if anybody wanting to wear one  these respirators,  we really ask them to talk to their physician to get some advice.”

She says the N-95  will not fit a child’s  face properly ” and they  can’t be worn properly on those with facial hair so they are not effective in those situations, and they stop working when they get saturated with water, so  again, we don’t recommend  people use them.”

“The negative health effects,  of breathing smoky air,  this is a relatively short event so most of the health effects are exacerbations of people’s acute chronic  health issues” says Dr. Henry “The best thing you can  do is try to stay out of that air if at all possible or try to set up an area in  your home  where you can  have clear air.”



These masks don’t work well in industrial settings either.

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